Dr. Craig Fischer poses in his orthodontics office in Pittsfield.
Dr. Craig Fischer poses in his orthodontics office in Pittsfield. (Stephanie Zollshan / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
Tuesday April 23, 2013

PITTSFIELD

Dr. Craig Fischer has made a habit of wearing a retainer every night to ensure his glowing smile. The 68-year-old Pittsfield-based orthodontist already has straight teeth -- and he wants to keep them that way.

"I don’t want my teeth to move one bit," Fischer said. "It’s the easiest thing in the world to pop it in [at night]."

Straightening of teeth is a procedure most often done in teenage years, but dental professionals are finding more older adults among their patients. They are seeking treatment primarily for aesthetic reasons, but also for the long-term preservation of their teeth.

When teeth can’t be adequately cleaned because they are misaligned, it can cause decay or gum disease and possible tooth loss.

The popularity of products like Invisalign, a clear removable form of retainer, has made it more socially acceptable for older adults to seek treatment, Fischer said.

He said hundreds of older adults in their 50s and older have come to his office about having their teeth straightened. He said the oldest was in her early 70s.

Pittsfield-based periodontist Erich Schmidt and periodontist Michael Williams say they routinely see patients who want to correct their smiles.

"It’s become more accepted," said Schmidt, who added that patients inquire on a weekly basis. "More and more adults straighten their teeth using Invisalign because it is not as noticeable as traditional orthodontics."

The Invisalign process straightens teeth through use of clear plastic molds -- made to fit over the wearer’s own teeth -- that are changed every two weeks. Each is calibrated to gradually shift the positions of teeth until they become straight.

Invisalign is meant to be worn at all times except when eating or brushing teeth for the recommended duration of time, Fischer said. The length of time can range from eight month to more than two years, he said.

The Invisalign retainer should continue to be worn after teeth correction to ensure the teeth stay in place, he said. vA retainer would need to be worn full time for three weeks, he said. Then it should be worn at night.

Invisalign isn’t a recommended option where a significant correction is needed or in cases where there are recommended tooth ex tractions, Fischer said.

Loss of bone or deterioration of the gum could also lead patients to avoid straightening their teeth, he said. Many adult dental plans don’t cover braces unless orthodontic coverage is included, Fischer said. Most dental plans for young adults age 18 or under cover some of the cost.

Loss of bone or deterioration of the gum could also lead patients to avoid straightening their teeth, he said.

Invisalign in Dr. Craig Fischer’s orthodontics office in Pittsfield
Invisalign in Dr. Craig Fischer's orthodontics office in Pittsfield (Stephanie Zollshan / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
Many adult dental plans don’t cover braces unless orthodontic coverage is included, Fischer said. Most dental plans for young adults age 18 or under cover some of the cost.

Braces can cost $5,000 to $6,000, Fischer said. Invisalign could cost $6,000 to $7,000.

Schmidt said he’d like to see more older adults straighten their teeth.

"Ideally, we’d recommend it to more people, but not everyone is interested or understands the importance. So it is our job [as dental professionals] to educate our patients."

Fischer said he’s worn a retainer for the past seven years since receiving Invisalign treatment. He said it’s a proactive approach to ensure his teeth don’t move out of place.

Whether individuals are young or old, Fischer said, "the majority of adults just want to have a nice pretty, handsome smile."

To reach John Sakata:

jsakata@berkshireeagle.com.

or (413)-496-6240.

On Twitter: @JSakata